A Closer Look At All Three New Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-Ones
This trio of limited edition creations is urban and ethereal at the same time.
Mechanical timekeeping is an odd pursuit in the 21st century. We live in a high-tech world, so sometimes horology can seem like an anachronism. But it is still an art that can produce surprisingly enchanting objects.
Jaquet Droz has been in the business since 1738. In the past, the company made automata for historical figures such as Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Fast forward a few centuries, and a different kind of king, Michael Jordan, has been spotted wearing a Grande Seconde Ceramic.
Throughout all the advancements in watchmaking, Jaquet Droz has been an outfit that was never easily categorized because no matter which era it exists in, it always seems to be ahead of its time.
When Jaquet Droz launched the Grande Seconde Skelet-One in 2018, the open-worked timepiece was offered in rose gold, white gold, and black ceramic, and it was the brand’s first skeletonized movement. In 2020, the series made moves into using a higher-tech plasma ceramic version. And this year, Jaquet Droz is pushing the potential of plasma even further with three new, limited-edition models in green, sky blue, and yellow.
The Glow Up
Ceramic is a transformative material for watchmaking. It’s durable and lighter than most metals making it extremely comfortable on the wrist. Another plus of ceramic is it can be produced in a variety of hues. And using a plasma spray further transforms the color at a molecular level to add an extra level of chromatic contrast.
It’s a tricky process to be sure — heating and cooling take time, and the material is difficult to mill. But when you get it right, the depth and uniqueness of the finish can be breathtaking.
Plasma ceramic is forged in a high-temperature oven. And because the color transformation occurs at a molecular level, this process helps maintain all the inherent properties of ceramic. With regards to the Grande Seconde Skelet-One, the finish is a black ceramic imbued with a metallic glow without the addition of any metal particles, so it is hypoallergenic for those with skin sensitivities. The hours and minutes ring is also crafted from black ceramic.
The index and screws on both the green and sky blue variations are made from 18K white gold. And by contrast, the yellow version warms things up with its red-gold index and screws and its white gold hours and minutes ring. It’s a subtle effect but harmonious with the overall look of the watch.
The biggest pop of color comes from the three versions of a textile strap, which gives the watch an urban flair. When adding such rich, earthy tones to the already iconic open architecture of the Grande Seconde Skelet-One, you get a sense of something adventurous and fresh yet reassuringly grounded.
Take Me to the Bridge
While the cutting-edge ceramic case makes the Grande Seconde Skelet-One feel oh so modern, it’s the way every component of the mechanism is stripped away to its minimum point of resistance that is truly impressive. The fully suspended gear train is attached to the movement’s skeletonized bridges raised by an open-worked oscillating weight that lets light shine clearly through.
To further emphasize the effect of being lit from within, the Grande Seconde figure “8” is formed by an entirely sapphire dial along with indices and hands in 18K gold suspended above a brushed hours and minutes ring. At 6 o’clock, the large second hand floats above the sapphire allowing the smallest details on the hand-crafted movement to be admired.
Mechanically, this collection stays true to Jaquet Droz’s roots of inventing creative calibers. At the same time, it doesn’t dwell in nostalgia.
The Grande Seconde Skelet-One is powered by a silicon balance spring and pallet lugs, a double-barrel with nearly three days of power reserve (68 hours, to be exact), and an 18K white gold open-worked oscillating weight nestled in the rim of the 41.5 mm case.
The new Grande Seconde Skelet-One collection is limited to just 28 pieces of each colorway and priced at $26,300. They are available now at jaquet-droz.com.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)